The Better Things In Life

The pain seems to be emanating from every minute orifice of my body. I am sore all over. It’s just incredible how only three months off of my usual workout routine could have such an impact on my body with a few rounds of squash; I have finally decided to go back to my usual health regimen that I had meticulously maintained back home.

It will be the 11th tomorrow, which means that it has been exactly two months since I landed in England. The ache in my muscles is a reality check of how much work remains to be done not just to stay fit but to keep up to date with weekly reading lists, research assignments, check out potential employers and most of all structure a plan of action and figure out what I need to have achieved by the time I graduate. Bah!

What a mind job uh? But of course to achieve anything in life one must pay their dues. I am in the thick of it and since things are expected to get a lot more serious from now on I have decided to capture the more whimsical aspects of life in UK before they skip my mind.

Some memorable experiences come to mind and I’ll start of with Covent Gardens at the heart of central London. This posh locality is the soul of tourist exploits and one day my friends and I ended up going to the very center of Covent Gardens which is an exquisitely designed market place with shops ranging from bistros, restaurants, pubs, wine bars and other assorted offering. One particular wine bar with a bistro setting caught our attention and we decided to grab seats.

The shop had seating outside in the atrium so that people could enjoy fine bubbly while listening to some amazing live music. The musicians were not hired. What this meant was that any aspiring musician or band could come play, entertain the crowd, dance, promote CDs, collect donations etc. And the music, oh my, we heard a fat Oprah lady sing (its cliched but true!), followed by a band of extremely charismatic classical musicians (who btw stole the spotlight for the evening) and then a group of beautiful women with violins.

The people here were nicely dressed and cultured, a far cry from the usual bar crowd and of course the wine menu didn’t leave anything to the imagination so a glass of sweet port added that extra cherry to the experience. I was in heaven.

The best time pass of London is to just visit popular historic locations and watch life goes by. There are many such locations, some notable ones that I have been to are Piccadilly Circus, Harrods, Oxford Circle, Trafalgar Square, London Eye. Its an amazing feeling walking around magnificent buildings and getting mesmerized in your thoughts, soaking all the positivity (is that a word?) around you. You feel like getting lost here, forgetting everything you know…

London Victoria Station is another such place. Although it might sound strange checking out a train station but the first time I went their to grab a coach, I couldn’t help but stand still for a good five minutes and simply gawk. The English have a thing for creating beautiful atriums and I can’t blame them. Somewhere in the background there was a group of young women singing dressed up as flight attendants 🙂

One day we decided to hit a jazz club, something I had been really looking forward to. Back home the most jazz you can get is listening to CityFM89’s All That Jazz show. Now I am not a jazz snob hell I can’t tell you the top five musicians in the genre if you ask but I certainly am in enthusiast. I like the bluesy melodies, it’s a very emotional music.

Anyway so this particular club is a London’s classic; Ronnie Scott’s! We went around 11pm when the ticket prices are greatly subsidized for students. The lobby was dimly lit with a reddish hue and after checking in our coats we were led to a large room. Again, the ambiance hits your senses like a warm cloud, you look around and try to devour everything at once. It won’t be a fair sketch if I try to explain constricted by a word limit so apologies for not writing more about the interior.

Lemme make up for that!

Hours flew by as the musicians continue to play… I looked at my friend and chuckled:

“Bruv, from Karachi to Ronnie Scott’s, who would have thought ehh?” We cheered our Martinis and went back to our own thoughts.

Once while checking out Harrod’s I persuaded my cousin to come with me to the Ecuadorian embassy where Julian Assange is residing, anxiously waiting for a way to get the hell out of dodge. Didn’t see a lot of policemen though but the one present was not in a talking mood. But hey at least I got a historic picture out of it.

Somewhere inside this building Julian Assange is sipping his tea

My university is about an hours drive from central London. It’s a small town and people are different from Londoners, very English and perhaps not as cosmopolitan. When I first came to this serene environment after a week of exploring the hub bub that is London I had a serious case of blues. But as I spent more time I realized the suburbs aren’t bad at all.

The other day I attended a bonfire night to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day (Remember Remember the 5th of November!). The highlight of the evening were a fireworks display, a large bonfire and a guest appearance by Simon Pegg (the guy from Hot Fuzz and Mission Impossible 3). All of this took place on a large field where it was freezing. It was a carnival of sorts and I have never seen so many people in one location, thousands and thousands! It was quite entertaining.

I’m beginning to get fond of this place now.

Oh yes, a funny incident happened that night; I got hit on by two 17 year old girls which was cute but very inappropriate.

There is so much more I could say but it mostly centers around London’s crazy night life and museums which you probably are aware of in any case. But I will say this, one early morning around 5am while winding up the festivities of last night and roaming sort of aimlessly trying to figure out a bus back home I saw the sun come up and felt at peace with the world.

I thought to myself, such wonderful things exist on this planet we Pakistanis are blissfully unaware of. Maybe, if the average ‘desi’ got a taste of the better things in life, he or she too could strive to make it their reality. And just maybe, that could one day mean the end of extremism, hostility, injustice, racism and poverty. Amen to that.

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